The Writing Is Still On The Wall...19 Years Later
Whenever the conversation about who has a good catalogue of music comes up, you can't forget to mention Destiny Child's "The Writings on The Wall" album. You just can't. There’s a reason “Writings on the Wall” spent 99 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200 back then, and earned the group six Grammy nominations. It's simply because DC, one of the industries best girl groups, gave us the Ten Commandments to relationships and it was a word. We should have known when Beyoncé said in the intro of “Writings On the Wall,” that this album was going to take us in and make our lives cease.
Back then, every album needed a lead single to set the tone for the entire album. It wasn't like it is now where an artist can drop an album and you can pick and choose the songs you want to keep on your playlist. Before music went digital, you had to physically skip the song you didn’t want to hear, or burn a new cd with just the songs you wanted.
The lead single for this album was "Bills, Bills, Bills,” and it was a whole anthem. Women were past tired of taking care of bum dudes, and the think pieces were rolling in. When the single dropped, couples were arguing for days and women were ready to leave their unsatisfying relationships. I mean, who could blame them? Who wants to take care of a grown man?
This album talked about relationship struggles, compromises and sacrifices in a way that was candid, raw and authentic. It gave us an entire range of relationship ups and downs. There's "Bug a Boo" where a man needs to realize when he's doing too much, "Confessions" and "Temptation" where both situations focus on wanting to leave a relationship but not sure if it's the right decision, and "Hey Ladies" where a man thinks it's okay to go ghost or play women go the left.
Mind you, it never occurs to you that the members of Destiny's Child were between the ages of 16-19 singing these songs. How would girls this age know about these types of relationship problems? Better question: why was I singing and relating to this in elementary school? It’s vevause it was a whole SERMON that even my 10-Year-old self could bop too.
As good as this album is, it will forever be marked by a dark unexplainable cloud. After the success of "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Bug A Boo,” everyone was ready for the video of "Say My Name,” an anthem about cheating and infidelity. Before the video dropped, MTV and news outlets everywhere hyped it so we would all tune-in to watch it on TRL. What we got was a dope video with two people we didn’t recognize. Where was LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Robertson and why wasn't anyone able to answer any questions? I remember Carson Daily being just as puzzled as everyone else when the video came out and asking the group directly didn’t solicit any answers. The only answer the public was given was that they had mutually decided to part ways with two members of the group and that Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin were here to stay. WHAT????
This album was set to hit it's peak and they decided to change members? The whole situation was a mess and honestly, but it didn’t take time for them to bounce back. Even after Farrah mysteriously left the group, “Say My Name” won them two Grammy’s and “Bills, Bills, Bills” was the ninth best selling single that year.
The DC trio was able to find success with new music but in my opinion, none of it quite matched the sheer magic of "The Writings on the Wall.” It might be because the album has aged like fine wine and cheese. It’s still relatable to every relationship struggle almost two decades later.
Someone mentioned on Twitter not too long ago that Brandy, Monica, Destiny's Child, and other girl groups were making adult music while they were still in their teens which made their catalogs age gracefully and I have to agree. We may never know what caused the breakdown of the original group and why it had to happen during this album, but the rumors swirling a possible reunion during Bey's performance at Coachella have got my coins ready.
Bottom line: “Writings on the Wall” is a classic, and I hope they re-release it as a collectors item when it turns 20 years old. You can't sit here and tell me that you aren't still bumping "Say My Name" like you did in 1999, and I know you started listening to the album when you started reading this.
Right, just like I thought.